|Toast at CBBC|
Six Major Opportunities
(Toast at CBBC Cocktail Reception, Marsh's Office)
Sir David Brewer,
Mr. Alexander Moczarski,
Other distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to join you to congratulate Sir David Brewer on his appointment as Chairman of CBBC.
I know he comes to China quite often, more often than I do, over a hundred times. We should apply a Guinness Record for him.
Last month Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, after making a successful visit to London, meeting the Prime Minister, concluded that China-UK relationship is at an opportunity point.
After the New Year holidays, I have been having intensive meetings in preparation for the Prime Minister's coming visit to China. I could sense that there is strong enthusiasm on both sides to expand our cooperation and relation.
As this is the first time I am speaking after the New Year, I want to talk about the 6 major opportunities for our relations offered by the development in China.
One, the opportunity brought by continued fast growth of China.
According to the latest Economist forecast, China's growth in 2008 will be 10.1%, still ahead of the world. I remember reading an article on The Independent, which commented that though the size of Chinese economy is only a quarter of that of US, its growth rate is 4 times higher.
China is quickly turning into one of the largest market in the world which is good news for a country like Britain with very strong service sectors and talented personnel. I noticed there are more Chinese students here in London. Even in Scotland, the tourist guide told me that the Chinese tourists keep the Edinburgh Castle open in winter. Britain is getting aware that Chinese is an important customer base and begin to make Chinese introductions. For example, when I visited Jane Austin's museum, a management told me he noticed more Chinese were coming to the museum. He even asked me to do the translation of its introduction for him. I did it. But I can't do it for all the museums.
Second, the opportunities brought by the Beijing Olympics.
It will probably be one of the largest in the world. The figures I hear are daunting: Beijing is expecting over 5 million visitors, 30,000 journalists and 100,000 volunteers. Now the Chinese Embassy is recommending several British who speak both English and Chinese as volunteers to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. I found someone with 3 grand children who speak both English and Chinese. However, the eldest grand child is only 6.
The Olympic related commodities sale is exceeding 1 billion US Dollars and the business opportunities are estimated at 400 billion US Dollars. The British skill and management will certainly be welcomed.
China is less concerned with slowing down after Olympics. Because it is believed that it will stimulate domestic consumption that is likely to sustain.
There is interest in China to find Post Beijing Olympic cooperation especially in the field of construction.
Three, opportunities generated by development of services and expansion of import.
The Ministry of Commerce has made 5 Year Program on Service Trade, the service trade target is 400 billion US Dollars by 2010, doubling the figure of 2006, particular opportunities for the British companies that have specialties in such field.
Four, one of the most important focuses of the Central Economic Conference held by the end of last year was about building an energy saving and environmentally friendly society and economy.
During the visit by the British Prime Minister, some agreements will be signed related to this field. We do hope such signals will encourage the business world in Britain to explore opportunities in this field.
Last year, we had a training group from China. They had a meeting with Prince Charles who impressed them very much for the idea of eco-city. The leader of the group, a Vice Minister from Ministry of Construction invited Prince Charles to attend his Environmental Construction Convention to be held in April 2008. Prince Charles said his schedule is tight, but he promised to send a DVD speech to the convention.
Five, more policy and financial incentives will be offered to encourage Chinese companies to invest overseas. It is hoped that more will come in this direction. Last month, the Chairman of CIC, Mr. Lou Jiwei paid a visit to London. He met with Mr. Darling, the Chancellor who welcomed his investment. When asked why he chose London for his first international visit, he said, first, coming to London was coming to the world; second, people in London are serious when they said they welcome Chinese investment.
Six, last but not the least, opportunities which will be brought about by the Prime Minister's visit to China.
Both governments attach great importance to this visit. Gordon Brown will meet all the top leaders in China with whom he will discuss global issues of common interests.
Business relations also top the agenda. Both the Chinese Premier and British Prime Minister will speak to the Business summit, which I hope many of you will come and attend.
I look forward to hearing from their views and ideas on how to advance our trade and economic ties in this world of changes and world of opportunities.
We will soon come to the Chinese New Year of Mouse.
I wonder if you know, according to the Chinese calendar order, the Year of Mouse is the first of the twelve year cycle.
I do not know exactly why Mouse is the first year. But for our bilateral relations, it could certainly be the beginning of another cycle of new growth.
I trust the new Chairman of CBBC will carry on the tradition of this important organization and I look forward to working with you.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to Lord Powell's invaluable contribution to our relation and cooperation which will be remembered.
I understand we could count on your support to a successful visit by PM Gordon Brown and wish to work together and bring solid progress in our bilateral relations.